Friday, July 26, 2013

A new start

Ok wow, it has been nearly 2 years since I have posted anything here.  I obviously did not succeed very well at documenting our tot school, and honestly, I didn't succeed very well in actually keeping up with doing the tot school either.  Over the past few years we have done some tot/preschool off and on, but then I'd get behind from having sickness go through the house or this or that and then I would get behind, and then it just went downhill from there.

However this year is going to be different.  It has to be...to an extent.   I will no longer be caring for my nephew and I will be focusing on my 2 kids M(4) and S(almost 2).  We are planning on homeschooling, so I feel like this year I at least have to prove to myself I can stick to some sort of schooling schedule, but at the same time since he is only 4, I don't want to push and make him dislike school time before we even really get started. 

I am in the process of planning for this year, and trying to do better by at least having everything ready for about 6 weeks at a time.  One of the things I did do, to help me out is I bought a Bible curriculum.  I feel like Bible is one of the #1 things I want to work on with my children.  I purchased Positive Action Preschool Bible Curriculum, the teacher's manual and the kids workbook.

https://positiveaction.org/product-group-exploring-gods-love

I am really looking forward to this because if all else fails, this is laid out for me and the projects are right there in the workbook and so we can still do this even if I get behind with other things.

I have also purchased Math U See Primer to use with him this year.

My plan for reading was going to be to use the Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons book, but we have done some lessons and he does not seem to enjoy it and honestly, I don't either.  He already knows all of his letters and letter sounds.  He can "sound out" words, but doesn't always understand putting the sounds together to understand that he is actually saying a word.  I have been really, really tempted to purchase All About Reading, it looks like it would be great for me with everything there for me, but I am also trying to avoid purchasing unnecessary curriculum.  So for the time being, I am just going to try to work with him on reading simple 3 letter words and some sight words and see how that goes. 

Those are the main things we will be working on this year.  I am also trying to plan at least one science and one art activity to go with the general theme of the Bible curriculum each week.  Hopefully this will be enough to get me in the habit of being intentional with the learning and enough to satisfy M's wants to "do school", but not too much to burn us out early on either.

Oh and aside from this we will also be attending a homeschool co-op 1 day/week, but he will just be in a 4 year old class which mostly does story time and crafts/games.

Friday, August 5, 2011

T is for Turtle Week

Ok, so I failed miserably at my goal of starting tot/preschool during the month of July. Between being pregnant, anemic, having contractions, having MIL in town for 2 weeks, my husband out of town for a week and my mom being here that week, spending anywhere from 1-3 days a week in doctors offices for appointments/ultrasounds/NSTs, and being generally exhausted and for some reason not really able to function between the hours of 9 - 11am, I did not even manage to get prepared for the weeks, let alone do many activities. The first week "T week" we actually managed to do the most, but after that it went all down hill from there, and mostly we only managed a couple letter matching activities and coloring sheets after that.

I also haven't gotten a whole lot more prepared for the fall, I have been printing/cutting/laminating little bits at a time, but I am so far from having anything really planned prepared.  I am not actually sure that we will start our LOTW stuff until maybe after the baby is born or maybe even January, though I am still trying to get it all printed.  I think I am just going to try to find some fun activities to do with them more during the fall until we get settled with the new baby.  I think I will try to do the sensory bins still each month, and maybe some activities to go with each months theme.  I also bought the Montessori at Home e-book by John Bowman and am reading that a bit at a time to come up with some activities for the boys to do.

Here is a little bit of our "T is for Turtle" week.

We started out with the turtle size sort:

Then we did some letter matching...I ended up getting out one of a different letter for M so that he could have his own.  In order to save on laminating, I glued the lower-case and capital letter match sheets together so I could laminate them as one sheet that would be front and back.  (And for the letter matching, I couldn't find the wooden disks, but I started saving water bottle caps and used those for the letters)
Then they did some color matching with the felt popsicles I made:
That afternoon I put M down for a nap and started some of the You Can Read lessons with T.  Here is his dot to dot sheet:


The next day we started with the dot markers, which the boys liked so then I printed off some circle sheets for them to do also. 

Another day they did some turtle color matching and lacing:

I helped M put his string through the hole and then let him pull it through:



And the last day we made paper plate turtles:



Linking up to:



Tot School

Monday, July 18, 2011

First Sensory Bin: Pond Theme

We started our tot school/preschool on July 11 and this is definitely going to be a learning process figuring out what works/what doesn't and how to do things with 2 boys at very different levels, but yet they want to do everything exactly the same!

Luckily the sensory bin was probably the greatest success of all the activities. They both loved playing with it, and asked for it several times.

I will save all the other details of our first week of tot-school for a different post, I will hopefully have that up soon.

For now I will just share our first sensory bin. I have decided to do one per month, and we will have one theme per month instead of trying to do a theme to go along with each letter of the week. We are starting with a pond theme.

In the Bin:
Blue dyed rice 
Felt lily pads
Frogs and Turtles from Safari Frogs and Turtles Toob (bought from Amazon)
Dragonflies from Animal Planet Bugs in a Tube (bought at Toys R Us)
Fish from Circo Underwater Life Collection Tube (bought at Target)
Snail aquarium decoration I had because many years ago it lived in a hermit crab tank
Cards from the Pond Preschool Pack at Homeschool Creations

We did a little matching of the objects with the cards:
They didn't play with it long that day because their neighbor friend came to the door wanting them to play outside.

The next pictures are from a different day.  I had found these M&M cups at Walmart and thought they would be great for sorting activities and such.  So I gave them each a cup and a plastic spoon and they scooped the rice into the cups.
This is what the bin looked like when they were done.  They ended up with all 5 cups in there and they (mostly T) sorted the objects by color putting the green turtle in the green cup and so on.
I'd say we made if a good 15-20 minutes before the rice started ending up outside the bin in large quantities.  I think they had a great time with it, and I really look forward to putting these together for all the themes I have planned for the next few months!

Linking up to:


Tot School

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Organizing for Preschool: Part 1

I still have a ton of organizing to do along with a lot of printing and laminating, and figuring out where everything will go, but I thought I would go ahead and share the start of my organizing process for all the letter printables and such I am collecting.

I started with a 1 inch binder for homeschool stuff, but then decided that I need to split up "my" homeschool info from the actual printouts.  So I am keeping the 1 inch binder for keeping a calendar and resources, I haven't gotten the tabs and such on it yet, I will try to get pictures of it, when I get it ready.  Then I had a 3 inch binder sitting in the closet luckily, so I decided to use that for storing all the printouts.  It may not work for everything, and I actually got a little set of plastic drawers for storing the flash cards and such, but here it is so far.

A section for colors:

 I have a page protector storing the color game pages I laminated for the different LOTW color matching.
 A section for shapes:

 A section for numbers/counting/math:

 My section for each letter, I bought alphabet tabs ready made for this:

Examples of the T section, I punched holes in the laminated full pages and put some tracing pages in a page protector:


I used a page protector to store the smaller cut out activities, this is what may have to change as I start getting more and more of these printed out, because it will make my binder huge!

 This is my alphabet review section, for anything that isn't specified to 1 letter of the alphabet:



My You Can Read section:

Some are in page protectors, others laminated with hole punches, or the coloring pages are just hole punched since those won't be laminated:  So far I have only printed out Unit 1, but am thinking about how I am going to separate the different units. 


I am linking up to:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Planning and Printing

I have been spending nearly every free moment planning for tot/preschool the past week or 2.  My new black ink cartridge is already screaming it's going on empty!  I am going to try getting them refilled at Walgreen's and hoping they can do that so that I don't have to order a new cartridge every time.  I also have a laminator on order from Amazon!  Can't wait for it to come in!  I already have stacks of papers to be laminated as soon as I get it out of the box!

So what will I be using?  I decided that it would be easiest on me to go ahead and use curriculums and printables that are out there for the most part (though I do have a few ideas of my own that I am hoping to be able to make soon!).  So I went ahead and purchased Confessions of a Homeschooler's LOTW curriculum, and her K4 expansion.  I also purchased access to 1+1+1=1's You Can Read Bonus section.

I have 3 - 1 inch binders, one for each of the boys and 1 for me.  I did create a cover page for T's You Can Read section and a cover page for a School Tools section for my binder.  That is about all I have accomplished for that so far.  Once I get more done, I plan to take pics to share.  And if I can figure out how to share printables, I will make the cover pages I made available for download.

I had no idea how addicting planning for homeschooling could be! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First Story Time

I have been awful about actually taking the boys out to do things because A) I didn't really know where to go and what to do and B) Taking 2 toddler boys for an outing was a little bit intimidating. 

Thanks to one of my amazing neighbors for inviting me to a MOPS group and getting me out and meeting up with her other friend (and my other neighbor's sister...it's a small world :)).  I have decided that this summer I really want to try to get out more and take M out more, because come September, taking care of 3 kids, one being an infant, it's going to be really hard to get out much.  Not too mention trying to stay in during flu season with an infant!

So this morning I got a text message inviting us to go to the park.  Now I am off from babysitting T for the month, so I texted my sister and asked if she and T would like to join us and I would go pick them up.  So we had a nice morning playing at the park and then we were invited to go to story time at the library by our house.  So my sister and I picked up a quick lunch and ate and then took the boys to their first story time. They did so good!  Both boys sat through the whole story and then sat and colored at the table!  I think it helped that we went spent the morning at the park so they had gotten lots of energy out running around and it helped them to have the other kids they knew so they could follow their example since the other kids were experienced story-time goers. 

I was so proud of them, and so glad to get that first experience out of the way!  Now I think I will definitely be taking them back regularly! 

Unfortunately I didn't think about taking my camera...so no pictures today.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tot School Week 1: D is for Dinosaur

I have been thinking for a while now that I would like to do some sort of preschool with my 3.5 year old nephew *T* (whom I take care of during the school year or summers months that my sister teaches) and my just-turned-2 year old son *M*. I recently came across the blog 1+1+1=1 and I have now become addicted to that site, and many of the sites the refers to.

I have spent the last few weeks looking at printables and activities for preschoolers out there in the blogosphere. This past week was my first attempt at "tot school" and it was quite a learning experience. I have learned that T is going to need much more challenging activities than what I had available this week, and that I may have to figure out a way to have him have a separate preschool time after M goes down for a nap to help him focus.

I have the month of June off from babysitting T, and will start watching him again in July. I am looking forward to spending this next month planning and preparing for July and for the fall. I would like to prepare for at least all the way through December since we are expecting a new baby in September and I know I won't have time to do a lot of the preparations until we get settled into life with a newborn and a toddler!

I have created a separate blog, where I plan to post all of the tools/activities I have so that I can categorize them and easily find them. I took the idea from 1+1+1=1, you can see her school tool blog HERE. HERE is the link to my tot school tools blog, which I hope to get started on soon.

T is currently 3.5 years old (42 months)
M is currently 2 years old (24 months)

And here is how our week went:
Monday
I had an ultrasound appointment Monday morning, so the boys just watched Dinosaur Train and then they put some Dinosaur window clings up on the front door to kick off Dinosaur week. I found them at the Dollar Tree.

Tuesday
This was the first day I attempted some printables and activities. I did not realize how fast they would fly through some of the activities, and was certainly not prepared for that. My nephew would accomplish one thing in just a couple minutes and then ask "what are we gonna do next?"

We started with the dinosaur heads and tails matching printables by 1+1+1=1 found HERE.

T mastered this really quickly.


M just had a fun time playing with the cards.  I can't show many pictures of him, because that morning he refused to wear shorts, so he is just in his T-shirt and undies.

Next they colored their D is for Dinosaur sheets.  This was after M's first meltdown because he wanted the orange color that T had.  I got this sheet from Homeschool Creations Alphabet Coloring Pages.

The we did the dinosaur puzzles printed from 1+1+1=1.  This is about the only thing that T has any trouble with, because doesn't quite get the matching up of the coloring on one piece to another.  So the pieces may be in the right place, but not turned the right way, but after a little bit of help he got his together.  M again, just played with the pieces.



After they were done with that, we attempted sorting pom poms by color, which is a little bit too advanced for M and way below T's skill level.  I made a pattern for T with the pom poms and had him do the same pattern underneath, which as soon as he figured out what I was asking him to do, he was done in just a few seconds.
 M just put the pom poms into a bowl, not worrying about separating colors, and so T ended up doing that too because he always wants to be just like M.  So I gave them each a plastic spoon and let them use the spoon to put the pom poms from one bowl into another.

After that I was already out of ideas, and it had only been about 30 minutes!  So I got out M's new dinosaur zipbin which my awesome cousin gave him for his birthday (she always comes up with the neatest things!) and was going to let them play with that.  In the mean time M found the little foam number puzzles I had got at Dollar Tree and decided that's what he wanted to play with.  So here are the last few pictures of our first official day of tot school!


Wednesday
We started with some dot painting.  I had bought a couple of the Bingo paints from the dollar store hoping that they would hold us until I can get some ordered off Amazon.  Well I certainly hope the dot markers on Amazon are much better, because these things were a mess.  They soaked all through the paper, and M loved them, and was so upset I had to take them away because they leaked way too much paint out.  However they both did a really great job getting the dots in (or close to in M's case) the circles meant for the dots!
After M's meltdown from taking the Bingo marker away, they started some print outs from the How to Train Your Dragon printables from 1+1+1=1.  T did really good at tracing the letter D.  M just LOVES dragons.  How to Train Your Dragon is his favorite movie, and I have seen it about 5 million times in the last few months!  I had printed out a couple more for T than M because I thought M would just be satisfied with the D page with Toothless on it, but I had to run to the printer to print him off the line tracing page too because T had one, of course he had to have one.


Then I tried some line tracing pages I got from Confessions of a Homeschooler and put them inside page protectors and let them use dry erase markers.  M of course had a great time scribbling with the markers, and T did a good job with the tracing until he decided he just wanted to scribble since that's all the M is able to do right now.  Again there was another meltdown from M when I had to take the dry erase markers away.  But I already have coloring all over my house, not because M intentionally colors on the walls or things, but because he loves carrying them around and when he climbs with a color in his hand...well you know what happens.
After that they played with the pom poms again, but I couldn't get anyone to sit down and sort or anything.  So that was the end of Day 2.  Oh and on this day we had the dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets for lunch.

Thursday
After Day 2 I was certainly realizing that I did not have nearly enough time to prepare.  So on Thursday morning they watched Leap Frog Letter Factory and then they dug for fossils (a gift for  from my awesome cousin) in the sand bin I managed to get put together the night before.  Before we dug for fossils we read Curious George's Dinosaur Discovery.  (I forgot to put what books we read on the previous days, but we did read Dinosaur themed books each day).



Friday
On Friday we borrowed the Land Before Time DVD from our neighbors, and a couple of our neighbor friends came over and "watched" the movie.  M has watched the Land Before Time again since then because he was conflicted on Friday morning whether to sit and watch like he wanted to or get up and play with the bigger kids.  He is definitely going to be a big movie fan, especially of anything dinosaurs or dragons.  I think we may have to have a more planned repeat of D week just because he loves dinosaurs and dragons so much.

I am linking up to:
Tot School